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CPM meet draws blank

Calcutta, Feb. 8: An attempt to finalise the CPM candidates for some Lok Sabha seats drew a blank today as a state committee meeting spent most of its time criticising Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee for his comments on the Netai massacre and the party’s choice of Rajya Sabha candidate.

“He (Bhattacharjee) unnecessarily raked up an uncomfortable issue before the Lok Sabha elections,” a state committee member said referring to the former chief minister’s observation at a public meeting earlier this month that CPM cadres had committed a “grave mistake” in Netai.

Nine people had been killed in firing from a CPM cadre camp in Netai in 2011, shortly before the Assembly elections.

Several other speakers at the state committee meeting criticised Bhattacharjee. Sources said CPM state secretary Biman Bose too said the former chief minister should not have broached the Netai firing.

Bhattacharjee was not present at the meeting when Bose made the comments.

When the former chief minister had walked in, a leader from Burdwan was questioning the wisdom and timing of Bhattacharjee’s public admission of party cadres’ involvement in the massacre.

The Burdwan leader also criticised the leadership for sending Ritabrata Banerjee to the Rajya Sabha as his alleged presence in a crowd that had attacked state minister Amit Mitra in Delhi had caused embarrassment to the party.

Several other speakers echoed him. “Our cadres were attacked and our offices ransacked because of his mistake. And now, he has been rewarded with a Rajya Sabha berth,” another leader said.

As Bhattacharjee is believed to have supported the decision to nominate Ritabrata, he too was criticised by a section of leaders from the districts.

Many district leaders said they wanted to have a say in the selection of the Lok Sabha poll candidates and did not want Alimuddin Street to “force its choices down our throats”.

“Most district leaders said the district units should suggest the names of the candidates to the state leadership,” another state committee member said.

As the meeting came a day before the Left’s Brigade rally, it has fuelled speculation that the names of some of the prominent candidates for the Lok Sabha polls could be announced at tomorrow’s show, which begins at 1pm.

In Bengal, the Left partners have always been the first to make their poll candidates and manifestos public.

But it was learnt that CPM state secretary Bose, who will address the Brigade rally along with Bhattacharjee, Prakash Karat and other leaders, had advocated waiting till Trinamul came out with its candidate list.